“if you really knew me…”

Most forum members have been through the Lifeline exercise as part of their group’s initial orientation, but forums are always looking to deepen connections, build trust, and get to know each other better.

One simple icebreaker that can be used, either when a new member joins, or at any time with an established group is “If you really knew me….”  This exercise is easily adjustable to fit the time available.  Go around the room and everyone completes the sentence “If you really knew me, you would know…”  The response should be something not previously shared with the group that could not be discovered from your resume, Linkedin profile, or other public source.  Participants can choose to share deeply or not depending on their comfort level.  If the moderator (or assistant moderator) goes first, and models the process, this can result in some significant sharing.  Go around the room, once, twice, three times or even more, depending on the available time.

Consider keeping this icebreaker in your back pocket for possible use at any future meeting when you have a little extra time and want to go deeper.

Clearing the Air

To maintain a trusting environment in forum, we encourage all groups to “clear the air,” raising any issues that may be getting in the way of open and honest conversation.  Our Healing Conflict exercise describes one way to do this.

However, during the early meetings after a forum’s orientation, it is often the case that the participants don’t know each other or simply don’t have a significant enough history to have developed a reason for clearing air.  Still it’s possible and probable that soon after a group’s formation issues will arise that require clearing.

Yet without practicing the process, members often are left ill equipped to handle these situations.

At the same time, it’s quite quit likely that participants have other unaddressed tensions in their personal or professional lives.  The following process will not only serve to teach clearing the air but it will also serve to help participants better understand these unaddressed tensions while providing a framework to address them if they so choose.

1.  After explaining the clearing the air model, give 5 minutes for participants to reflect on the following question:  who are the people in my life with whom I am not clean?

2.  Once everyone is ready, ask for a volunteer to begin.

3.  The volunteer (person A) is to briefly describe the situation(s) and who they will address.

4.  Person A addresses each person in the forum, one at a time, declaring if clean or not.  If not clean, person A is to use the name of the person with whom s/he is not clean and to role play exactly what s/he would say.

5.  Just as per the clearing the air model, the person being addressed are not to respond, until it’s their turn.

6.  Repeat steps 3-5 with the next participant.

7.  Debrief the learning.  Ask participants how it felt both as a sender and the receiver of the comments.

Bob Halperin